Police are hunting vandals who carried out a sickening three-night rampage of destruction smashing up 30 historic headstones in the graveyard of a Grade I listed church. Pictures from Croydon Minster of St John Baptist in South London show smashed up headstones covering the ground, with some of the historic memorials dating back 300 years.
Attackers struck over three nights on April 12, 13 and 14 during one of the holiest months in the Christian calendar, the Met Police says.
Rev Canon Dr Andrew Bishop took to Croydon Minster Facebook page to share a video detailing the horrowing sight, as well as offering thanks to the local community for their support.
Speaking as he stood next to the destroyed monuments, Fr Andrew said: “It’s been several weeks since we discovered this horrible scene of destruction.
“Somebody has come along and smashed headstones, some of which are up to 300 years old, marking the burial places of people of this great town of Croydon.
“Out of this destruction, which came in the very week we were celebrating the triumph of life and hope and the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, out of this scene of destruction, I’m also pleased to be able to say, and say thank you, for wonderful, kind, generous messages of support, both on social media and by contacting the church directly.”
Fr Andrew thanked the executive mayor of Croydon and Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central, as well as the police and other members of the local council.
He said: “Thank you Croydon for rallying round and your support in what’s been a real shock to the system for this church.
“I think in all the help, in all the support that we’ve had, there’s a great sign of hope that Croydon can come together.”
Fr Andrew said he hoped the community would come together for not just disasters like this but for many other things. On the post one people offered words of support.
One person commented: “Well said, Fr Andrew, about everyone rallying round the church. Whatever possessed anyone to take a sledgehammer to these wonderful historic monuments to Croydon’s citizens? No purpose served whatsoever.”
On the Croydon Police Facebook page, a statement read: “Our Grade 1 listed Church, Croydon Minster of St John Baptist has had 30 gravestones destroyed, some of the graves date back 500 years.
“This happened over 3 nights 12th April, 13th and 14th of April. If anyone has any information, please call 101 and quote CAD 5429/16 April 2023.”
According to Croydon Minster’s website the building has a long and distinguished history and “is believed to have been founded in Saxon times” and is listed in the Doomesday Book in 1086.